Moore looks to the future

Fri, 04 Nov 2016 16:40
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IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Australia head into Saturday's match against Wales in Cardiff with just three wins in their last 11 Test but captain Stephen Moore insisted they are focusing on the future.

Since losing to New Zealand in the final of last year's World Cup, England handed the Wallabies a whitewash in June and they also suffered a record 6-42 home defeat by the All Blacks in the Rugby Championship, in which they managed to finish second.

But the team, while experienced in some areas, has waved goodbye to the likes of backline stalwarts Adam Ashley-Cooper, Kurtley Beale, Matt Toomua, Matt Giteau and Drew Mitchell.

"I think we have been building. There are a lot of new players who have come into the team over the year. There are a large number of players in this team who probably haven't played against Wales before at all, so they've got no history," Moore stated.

Australia enjoy an 11-match winning streak over Wales - last losing out in 2008 in Cardiff. But tellingly, six of those games have been claimed with a winning margin in single digits.

But Moore insisted that Australia's recent dominance over Wales counted for little.

"It is a big Test match. It is something we have been working towards. In terms of the record, I think that's not something we have spoken about. We are pretty excited to get going. It's a long tour and we look forward to this first game. It is really important we start the tour well.

"Every game is just as important as the last one and if you look back at what has happened in the past, you will trip yourself up a bit. Wales have picked a strong, experienced team. They will know what is required. They will be dangerous, as always," he added.

Coach Michael Cheika said the team were still gelling and targeting better "transition" periods from attack to defence.

"We've had to work hard defensively and bring in a bigger focus on the transition, so when the ball turns over I think that's the key moment. When it come to sorting that out, you'll find that teams that are new and are building their bond and their team spirit and they're getting to know each other, that's the thing that struggles the most.

"We want to be quite clinical in the way we shut [turnovers] down because Wales are a team that can keep the ball for quite a long time," Cheika said.

After the Cardiff clash, Australia face Tests against Scotland, France, Ireland and England, plus a midweek match with the French Barbarians.

The Wallabies will be aiming for a second Grand Slam over the home Nations, their previous success coming back in 1984.

"This is a big tour for us. We've got five big Test matches and we want to make the most of every one. It's a great opportunity for this team. We've always seen Wales as a huge opponent and I think the scores in all the games we've played recently have told that story, it's been close games and entertaining games, always.

"Ideally it won't be close but I've got a feeling it's going to be," he added.

Agence France-Presse